Tag Archives: Groningen

Groningen 2 – 1 NAC: Three goals by Groningen captain Granqvist, yet still a narrow score line

Groningen managed to beat NAC Breda, two teams separated by only three points in last year’s final standings, but having quite different season starts this year. Young manager Pieter Huistra continues to impress with a 4-2-3-1 that suits the Groningen players very well. Against NAC they dominated the match, although the score line suggested otherwise, but creating 11 shots on target while allowing only one sums up the story here.


Groningen’s season start and the return of Holla

The starting line-ups

In this match, Groningen is looking to build on their best season start ever, looking to strengthen their aspirations of qualifying for European football next season. Quite a debut for starting manager Pieter Huistra! He is a consistent tactician in the sense that he consequently plays a 4-2-3-1 system, keeping his wingers quite wide and focusing a lot of play on ground passes. Add to that Groningen’s aerial strength from the back, especially with set piece goals coming from captain Andreas Granqvist and the picture of their game play is drawn.

Groningen gained a lot in terms of passing accuracy with the return of Danny Holla after his ankle fracture. He is yet to find his form, but when he does, he plays a rather classic deep-lying playmaker role, which in turn relieves Sparv from being the main passer in Groningen’s midfield. The young Fin is then  allowed to lower his passing distance and aim for keeping possession, much like the third central midfielder role that Zonal Marking defined as the ‘passing midfielder’.


NAC’s inverted wingers 4-3-3

NAC saw manager Robert Maaskant depart only three matches into the new season, only for his replacement duo John Karelse and Gert Aandewiel to set win 13 points from their first five matches. Three straight defeat followed and NAC is placed in mid-table at the moment. For most part of the season, they’ve played a straight 4-3-3 formation, relying quite heavily on the creative input of striker Matthew Amoah. In his lone striker role he tends to be supported by inverted wingers like Leonardo, Boussabon and Kolkka.

For this match, however, NAC has in fact adapted to Groningen’s tactics. They play a 4-2-3-1 themselves, playing Ali Boussabon behind striker Amoah , fielding split wingers, with left-footed Leonardo on the right and Gorter on the left.

In this match, beforehand, the focus will certainly be on Groningen’s left (and NAC’s right) flank, where Stenman defends the unpredictable Leonardo. The Brazilian is not known for tracking back at all while Frederik Stenman excelled in his advanced role, teaming up with Dusan Tadic very well over the past few matches. This area of the pitch will most likely be a tell-tale of how the match will develop.


The first half

In fact, the game started with an own goal by Andreas Granqvist, who headed a corner into his own net in the second minute of the game. This changed the face of the game even before it had started. NAC interpreted the advantage as a license to draw back into their own half and let Groningen dominate the game. The led to a rather messy opening fifteen minutes where Groningen recovered from the early set-back and NAC seemed comfortable enough. In this phase, the game was obstructed by a lot of small fouls, more than one every two minutes for the first half.

After this opening phase, Groningen got their game running, especially with Stenman, as predicted, down the left flank. During one of their pressing phases they gained a penalty from a NAC handball, which Granqvist converted in order to settle both the game and his personal score line.

Granqvist plces the ball on the spot for one of his two penalty kicks of the night

Groningen’s pressure carried on with NAC seemingly yet to have to start their game. NAC’s relatively high defensive line won them quite some offside, but also meant that the cleverly playing Gonzalo Garcia had space for his through-ball, on one of which Matavz should have put Groningen in front at that time. As so often happens, the home team took a small break, catching their breath, after playing a very intense first twenty minutes.


A lead just before half-time

The final stage of the first half saw Groningen up the pressure on their opponents once more. Their improved midfield passing was expressed in some nice one-touch moves, one of which lead to a shooting chance for Enevoldsen. A further display of their technical skills was the excellent effort from outside the box when Gonzalo Garcia hit the crossbar with a ferocious volley.

Just before half-time Groningen earned a second penalty, after a second handball, not as much a deliberate one, but it did take a scoring opportunity away. Again, Granqvist stepped up and again,he scored, putting Groningen in front this time.


The second half

Attention was of course turned to NAC at the beginning of the second half. Being behind now, the away side had to come up with something to change the course of the one-sided game. Of first note was the half-time change to move Gudelj from a very controlling midfield role into more of a box-to-box role. He tried to provide Boussabon with more attacking support in midfield, but NAC missed the input of Donny Gorter in central midfield, after stationing him at the left wing when trading the 4-3-3 for the 4-2-3-1.

It took until halfway into the second half for NAC to make more chance in search of the equalizer. Captain Rob Penders was subbed off for Anthony Lurling, in a move which strengthened NAC’s attack further. But as the match carried on, it was quite clear that this NAC side seems to lack firepower upfront. Groningen survived up to the final whistle without too much difficulties to win the three points they deserved.


In the end

It’s not a unique situation in the Eredivisie, a player scoring an own goal and two regular goals too, but it did provide a special sense to the game for Groningen captain Granqvist. Both teams playing a 4-2-3-1 a sticking to it, meant a disappointing match from a tactical point of view. Furthermore, NAC seems to lack the depth in their squad to provide the required variation in a match that, like this one, doesn’t go their way.

Groningen 1 – 0 Heerenveen: ‘The Derby of the North’ springs to life in the second half

The first half of this season’s first ‘Derby of the North’ was a tame affair, as reflected by the 0-0 half-time score. In the second half the game came to life, with Heerenveen passionately chasing the game after conceding the opening goal immediately after half-time.


Stable FC Groningen

Groningen went into this match against northern rival Heerenveen off the back of their best season start ever. Even having topped the table for a day, the ‘Pride of the North’ consequently operate in a 4-2-3-1 formation that is characterized by their outside wingers. Withdrawing Niklas Pedersen to play behind lone striker Matavz have been a wise move from manager Pieter Huistra, as the pair have produced over half of Groningen’s open play goals so far.

Their back-line provides stability and offers an aerial presence too. Both centre-backs, Granqvist and Ivens, have played all of the matches so far and have proven to be a valuable presence during attacking set pieces too.


Disconnected Heerenveen

Heerenveen still seems a bit disconnected, based on their performance in the first eight matches of this season. The acquisition of Bas Dost, who was transferred from Heracles this summer, seems to bring about quite some chances to their type of play. Dost is an aerially strong target man who needs his share of supply from the wings, while both Ousama Assaidi on the left and Roy Beerens on the right have a natural tendency to cut inside an look for space.

The starting line-ups. Note the Stenman-Beerens match-up that proved important during the first half.


Heerenveen’s 4-1-4-1

In this derby, Heerenveen did in fact not play their regular 4-2-3-1, but looked more like a 4-1-4-1 set-up. Viktor Elm controlled the midfield behind central midfielders Vayrynen and Grindheim. The pair of them looked to join the attack by making runs from deep, but in general kept within the line of four midfielders.

While in theory looking like an excellent plan to counter Groningen’s 4-2-3-1 in an away match, Ron Jans’ Heerenveen side did not provide the defensive stability that a 4-1-4-1 should have done. And this had very much to do with their right flank. Although Beerens’ pace and dribbling skills are a renowned weapon in the Eredivisie, his lack of defensive responsibility offers a liability to the team too. Confronted with the overlapping power of Groningen left-back Stenman, this proved Heerenveen’s biggest problem of the first half.


The first half

Groningen, meanwhile, operated their 4-2-3-1 from a rather deep defensive line initially, which lead to a tame start to the match. Both teams did not achieve a reasonable pass completion, leading to short possession spells and not the best of entertainment.

With around fifteen minutes played Groningen tried to take matters more in their hands. They played a more pressing came, at the cost of conceding more space at the back. But while Groningen did not create much danger, Heerenveen used this new found space to some effect.


First-half tactical change

Ron Jans is generally known as a man with a hands-on approach and this was shown in his first half substitution. Still somewhat of a taboo, a first half tactical substitution, brining on Koning for overrun right-back Janmaat did succeed in limiting Heerenveen’s right-sided problems. Roy Beerens was clearly instructed to track back more too, limiting Stenman’s offensive play.


The second half

Immediately after half-time Groningen’s aerial set piece danger was illustrated by Granqvist’s fourth Eredivisie goal. His header from a Dusan Tadic inswinging corner found the net to put the home side 1-0 up.

Unexpectedly this did not bring any comfort to Groningen’s game. Heerenveen started pressing by advancing midfielders Grindheim and Vayrynen and Groningen’s defensive midfielders were unable to find their passing targets anymore. It was quite clear that Groningen misses outlet options as both striker Matavz and man-in-the-hole Pedersen played a rather flat game.


Chasing Heerenveen

After substituting Vayrynen for Djuricic, who is a more offensive midfielder, Heerenveen switched from their 4-1-4-1 to their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Djuricic did succeed in finding some space between the lines of the Groningen defensive and his through-balls created a few chances here and there. Groningen’s lack of defensive outlets meant that they had to resort to an ugly defensive game, hoping for a quick break on their long ball clearances. However, lacking true pace in their attacking line-up or on the bench, this was never quite likely to occur.

Groningen manager Jans indicating his style of play for the final minutes.

Nearing the end of the match Ron Jans clearly indicated his switch to a one-on-one back line and Heerenveen lined-up in what was effectively a 3-3-4 formation after captain Breuer was sacrificed for extra striker Fazli. Throwing men forward was the recipe towards the final minutes of the game, but Groningen managed to hold on to their narrow lead, nicely symbolized by young full-back Kieftenbelt’s cheering after clearing a ball from the goal line in the final minute.


In the end

In the end it was a poor match if not for the tension induced by the close score line. Heerenveen still looks like a disjointed team at the moment. Tall striker Dost is clearly unhappy with the lack of quality crosses that the inside wingers provide while wingers Assaidi and Beerens need their striker to join in ground combinations and through balls aiming to use their dribbling skills and pace. Today their choice for a 4-1-4-1 made things look even worse, although from a rational standpoint this approach in an away match against an in-form opposition playing a 4-2-3-1 seems very much justified.

Groningen will definitely take this. Winning the Derby of the North, taking three points from a team that was regarded to be a rival to their ambitions to qualify for European Football this season. Manager Pieter Huistra most certainly made his debut as a manager in impressive fashion, providing Groningen with their best season start ever, despite already having played Ajax, PSV, AZ and Twente.

Groningen – Utrecht 1-0… Patient Groningen overcomes a lacklustre Utrecht side

In the Euroborg, a fine example of a modern stadium that offers an excellent footballing atmosphere, home side FC Groningen took on ‘Celtic-beaters’ FC Utrecht in a match that could be seen as an early six pointer in the battle for the European Football qualification spots. The home side saw their patient and controlled attacks rewarded with a late winner to defeat a rather tame and defensive-looking Utrecht team.


Groningen’s new manager

Groningen, nicknamed ‘The Pride of the North’ by their fans, waved their long-standing coach Ron Jans goodbye last summer, after the latter decided to leave the club for rivals Heerenveen. While Jans’ struggle to impose his 4-2-3-1 philosophy has been detailed before, his successor’s successful start to the season has remained unnamed on 11tegen11 so far. Time to change that!

Pieter Huistra was brought to Groningen to make his debut as manager. The 43-year old made his debut as a player in 1984 for this same club, and has played for Veendam, Twente, Glasgow Rangers, Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Lierse SK since. Upon ending his playing career in 2001 he was contracted as a youth coach, again by Groningen. After spells as an assistant manager at Vitesse and Ajax he was appointed to manage Ajax’ youth team, obtaining a second place during the 2009/10 season.

Groningen manager Pieter Huistra

So after making his debuts as a player and as a coach at Groningen, he has now made his debut as manager. And a successful debut it is so far. With a 3-2-0 start to the season, Groningen currently occupies the fourth place in the Eredivisie, behind PSV, Ajax and Twente.


The line-ups

Groningen’s recognizable 4-2-3-1 and Utrecht’s defensive 4-3-3, nearing a 4-1-4-1 formation

Working with a very recognizable 4-2-3-1 system, Huistra has his team playing with inside, though not inverted wingers, leaving a lot of space for the full-backs to run into. New signing Jonas Ivens forms a stable centre-back duo with top asset Granqvist, providing an aerial dominance meanwhile, with both defenders measuring 1.88 and 192m respectively.

The midfield area provides a little less to the team so far though. With important players like holding midfielder Danny Holla and playmaker Petter Andersson still looking to recover from long-term injuries, Huistra is forced to improvise in this area during this phase of the season.

Their opponents Utrecht have seen a lot of the spotlight already this season. Their 4-0 home victory over Celtic was celebrated like a trophy in itself and striker Van Wolfswinkel provided an excellent return of 11 goals from 11 Utrecht matches, earing his first cap in the meantime. And now that a transfer rumour of the 21-year old going to the Premier League to play for newly promoted Newcastle United has not proved reality, Utrecht can count on him for at least another half season.

Against Groningen, however, Utrecht already felt the endurance of a season that started with their first competitive match on July 15 against KF Tirana. After a extension to the past season, contesting the play-offs for the Europa League qualification spot, with this same Groningen by the way, their summer break has been virtually inexistent. Today Utrecht misses left-flank striker Mulenga and attacking midfielder Asare due to hamstring injuries and playmaking dribbler Dries Mertens due to suspension.

So, with their attacking options severely limited Utrecht fielded a quite defensive formation that on paper might have looked like a 4-3-3, but the very deep position of captain Silberbauer made it look more like a 4-1-4-1  with flank players pushed on a bit.


The first half

This defensive Utrecht set-up paved the way for Groningen to exert their controlled attacking. Dominating possession from the kick-off, holding midfielder Sparv saw quite something of the ball, often playing into striker Pedersen who aimed to control the ball, looking to lay it off to attacking midfielder Bacuna or inside wingers Tadic and Enevoldsen. Tom Hiariej, generally playing as a right-back, proved his positional flexibility by taking up a box-to-box role beside Sparv.

Utrecht meanwhile, did not succeed in keeping the ball in possession, suffering quite some Groningen pressure early in their own half and missing their preferred outlet on the left wing in the absence of Dries Mertens. Although they may not have started very successful possession-wise, the first big chance of the match fell to their side, after an individual error by Jonas Ivens, who failed to control a simple ball, leaving Van Wolfswinkel one-on-one with keeper Luciano, only for the Utrecht striker to see his shot blocked.

Groningen, by all means scared that such an opportunity would ruin the plan of a controlled attack, took their foot off the gas a bit. Utrecht kept to their defensive stances and the match never really got underway before half-time again. The only thing worth mentioning would be Groningen’s continuous aerial threat from set-pieces. Although not successful in this match, regular Eredivise followers will remember their dramatic late equalizer against Ajax, following a headed corner.


The second half

The second half started where the first had ended with Groningen carefully building their attacks, although never really connecting near the box, and Utrecht looking for individual mistakes in the Groningen defense. It was quite telling that the loudest cheers so far at that point in the match came upon Slovenian international striker Tim Matavz starting his warm-up. He replaced youngster Leandro Bacuna in the 66th minute to play the advanced striker role with Nicklas Pedersen roaming around him.

Andreas Granqvist converting the late penalty

And it was exactly this combination of players that earned Groningen the penalty. Pedersen smartly moved into space to receive that ball at feet, had lots of time to look for the pass, played Matavz in, who was clumsily fouled by Utrecht captain Silberbauer during his dribble in the box. Andreas Granqvist converted the penalty and Groningen comfortably saw out the remainder of the match.


In conclusion

In the end the defensive side did not get what they wanted, and Groningen won one over a direct Eredivisie rival. Most people might feel that justice is done when the attacking side gets one of the defensive side, especially with the winning goal being scored near the end of the match. However, Utrecht’s defensive outlook seems quite justified given that they missed several influential players and a draw away to Groningen would have suited them well. Let’s hope that this is not a prelude to the long and hard campaign, combining national and European football, taking its toll already.

Groningen fans should hope to see more of the Matavz-Pedersen tandem at work. With Pedersen claiming not to have had his full physical strength during the past season and Matavz still recovering from his World Cup efforts with Slovenia, the best of this duo seems yet to come and if it is, Groningen will definitely fight for European Football this season.

Portugese lessen voor een groeiend Groningen

Groningen ging gisteren met 4-2 onderuit tegen Vitoria Guimaraes in de eerste van twee oefenwedstrijden in evenzoveel dagen. Zoals de hele oefencampagne reeds het geval is startte de nieuwe trainer Pieter Huistra beide helften met twee verschillende elftallen, waardoor het niet moeilijk te zien in welke spelers hij de basis van zijn team ziet en welke, voornamelijk jonge talenten voor hun plek mogen knokken het komende jaar. Het tactische plan bestond inderdaad zoals gisteren voorspeld uit een 4-2-3-1 opstelling, zoals we die ook van de meeste grote teams op het WK kennen. Ondanks de afwezigheid van basisspelers Holla en Andersson, die beiden geblesseerd zijn en Enevoldsen en Matavz, die rust krijgen na het WK, is de aanpak die Huistra voor ogen staat duidelijk.

Wat ook duidelijk is is dat er nog wel wat werk aan de winkel is. Op zich is dat niet zo verwonderlijk in deze fase van het seizoen, maar het is te bezien of Huistra het ambitieuze 4-2-3-1 systeem op tijd van de grond krijgt. Naast het inpassen van de nieuwe aanwinsten Tadic op de linkervleugel en Ivens als rechter centrale verdediger krijgt rechtsback Maikel Kieftenbeld,  na twee seizoen in de basis bij Go Ahead Eagles, nu de kans om zich op het hoogste nationale niveau te manifesteren.

Laten we voor deze beschouwing vooral uitgaan van de eerste helft, aangezien buiten de beide doelmannen slechts de vier verdedigers van Vitoria Guimaraes na de rust op het veld terugkeerden. De eerste tien à vijftien minuten waren de gevaarlijkste kansen voor FC Groningen, dat met name een sterke linker kant liet zien. Linksback Stenman vervulde in deze fase de rol die je een back in het 4-2-3-1 systeem graag ziet doen: veel opkomend, zijn tegenstander hiermee dwingend hem te verdedigen in plaats van andersom en uiteindelijk over Dusan Tadic heen te gaan en de voorzet af te leveren waaruit de 0-1 ontstond. Aan de andere zijde speelde Kieftenbeld, misschien bewust zo geïnstrueerd, misschien om aan het niveau te wennen, in een meer ingehouden rol, waardoor de balans goed in het elftal bleef. Overigens zijn alle zes doelpunten op deze site te zien.

Hierna raakte FC Groningen echter de controle kwijt en ontstond, met name op het middenveld, te veel ruimte voor de Portugezen om de combineren. Twee dingen sprongen hierbij in het oog.

Allereerst het voorspelde zwakke meeverdedigen van Gonzalo Garcia Garcia. De evolutie waaruit het 4-2-3-1 systeem is ontstaan is in feite simpel. Waar een tegenstander in een 4-4-2 systeem speelt kun je op het middenveld een 3-tegen-2 situatie creëren  door een spits terug te trekken naar het middenveld, en dat zou vandaag Garcia Garcia moeten zijn. Denk hierbij aan de rol van Wesley Sneijder op het WK. Essentieel onderdeel van deze gedachte is dat bij balverlies de aanvallende middenvelder zich ook gedraagt als een centrale middenvelder van een team dat niet in balbezit is. Dat betekent jagen, druk zetten op de veelal centrale opbouw van de tegenstander. En dit ligt niet in de natuur van Gonzalo Garcia Garcia. Hoewel je wel ziet dat hij deze instructie probeert op te volgen liggen zijn kwaliteiten simpelweg niet op dit gebied. Vergelijk zijn situatie met die van Diego bij Juventus het afgelopen seizoen in deze analyse door Tomwfootball. En concludeer dat een trequartista als Garcia Garcia een anachronisme in het moderne voetbal is. Het is voor FC Groningen te hopen dat Petter Andersson snel weer fit is en zijn oude niveau na lang blessureleed dit seizoen weer zal halen.

Het tweede punt waardoor FC Groningen voor rust op achterstand kwam laat zich goed illustreren door een opname van het eerste doelpunt van Vitoria Guimaraes. De linies van Groningen zijn met kleuren gemarkeerd, de verdediging rood, de controlerende middenvelders oranje, de vleugelaanvallers geel en de aanvallende middenvelder blauw. Het probleem is het gat in de verdedigende linie, aangegeven met de stippellijn. Dit gat onstaat doordat rechter centrale verdediger Ivens uitstapt om zijn man te volgen, niet toevallig spits Edgar, in de voorbeschouwing gisteren aangegeven als dè man bij Vitoria Guimaraes. Hierdoor moet Granqvist zover naar centraal opschuiven dat ook hij rechts van de as van het veld komt te staan. Stenman kan gezien de positie van zijn direct tegenstander het gat niet opvullen en Sparv ziet het wel, maar te laat. De inschuivende man is niet meer tegen te houden en Vitoria Guimaraes maakt door middel van deze fantastische aanval de 1-1.

Wat er in deze situatie door elkaar loopt is de zonedekking en mandekking. In feite leent het 4-2-3-1 systeem zich vrijwel alleen voor zonedekking. In theorie vormen de centrale verdedigers en de controleurs op het middenveld een hecht vierkant blok zodat de zones dicht bij elkaar liggen en de kans is hierdoor minimaal dat de tegenstander vrij komt te staan door slim positie te kiezen op de grenzen van deze zones. Maar dan moet wel consequent die zonedekking worden toegepast en dat is nu precies waar de kwestbaarheid van dit systeem ligt. Vitoria Guimaraes geeft hiermee een duidelijke boodschap af voor de trainersstaf van Groningen waar ze hopelijk het hele seizoen nog profijt van zullen hebben. De zwervende, meer teruggetrokken rol van Edgar moet niet tot het inschuiven van Ivens leiden, maar Ivens moet de dekking overlaten aan Femi Ajilore (oranje gemakeerd). In dit screenshot zie je dat Ajilore hiervoor prima gepositioneerd is, beter dan voor het druk zetten op de bal, zoals hij nu probeert. En overigens grijpt dat weer terug op het eerste punt: die rol zou voor Garcia Garcia moeten zijn hier.

Uiteindelijk werd het voor rust nog 2-1 voor de Portugezen via een mogelijk houdbaar afstandschot na een knappe individuele actie van Edson. Afijn, één oefenwedstrijd, vele lessen… En zo hoort het ook. Het gaat tenslotte om de toepassing van deze lessen wanneer het er echt om gaat. En dat is ook vanavond nog niet zo, al wacht met kampioen Benfica wel een sterke tegenstander.

Vitoria Guimaraes – Groningen vanaf 22.15 uur live te zien…

Vitoria Guimaraes – Groningen is live te volgen via deze link.

Vandaag aandacht voor Groningen. De Trots van het Noorden is op uitnodiging in Portugal voor een trainingskamp van enkele dagen waarin wedstrijden tegen niet de minste clubs op het programma staan. Kampioen Benfica is morgen de tegenstander en vanavond wacht Vitoria Guimaraes, afgelopen seizoen geëindigd op de zesde plaats.

Deze wedstrijd biedt uiteraard de mogelijkheid om de blik te richten op de nieuwe trainer, Pieter Huistra. Vorig seizoen was de ex-international nog verantwoordelijk voor jong Ajax en nu mag hij in de voetsporen treden van Ron Jans, die na acht jaar FC Groningen verliet voor noordelijke rivaal Heerenveen. Als  Huistra de speelstijl van zijn voorganger zou doortrekken, en afgaand op de eerdere oefenwedstrijden die Groningen eerder afwerkte is er geen reden om aan te nemen van niet, dan treedt FC Groningen dit seizoen aan in een 4-2-3-1 formatie. Waar deze formatie in het internationale voetbal en ook in de grotere competities, met name in Engeland en Spanje, onderhand gemeengoed lijkt te zijn geworden, is dat in de Eredivisie nog zeker niet het geval. Misschien dat het succes van deze formatie op het afgelopen WK ook de vaderlandse trainers kan overhalen, zodat we deze tactisch robuuste speelstijl het komende jaar vaker gaan tegenkomen.

Verwachte basisopstelling van FC Groningen. Tussen haakjes de verwachte basis als de hele selectie weer fit is.

Zijn er ook nog nieuwe gezichten te bewonderen in het groenwit dit jaar? Jawel! Met het contracteren van linker vleugelspeler Dusan Tadic, hier te bewonderen in een YouTube compilatie, troefde Groningen een aantal gerenommeerde clubs als Bayer Leverkusen, Montpellier en naar verluidt ook Ajax af. Tadic speelde ondanks zijn jonge leeftijd van 21 jaar de voorbije drie seizoenen steevast in de basis bij Partizan Belgrado en was het afgelopen jaar zelfs goed voor 10 goals en 9 assists in 27 duels. De Servische jeugdinternational, die overigens afgelopen jaar ook al n interland speelde, moet FC Groningen van de broodnodige aanvallende creativiteit gaan voorzien. Verder werd de aanvoerder van KV Mechelen, Jonas Ivens, aangetrokken om het vertrek van centrale verdediger Gibril Sankoh op de vangen. Ivens is een fysiek sterke speler, meet liefst 1.85 meter en zal een stevig duo vormen met Andreas Granqvist, die ondanks de vele geruchten over een transfer naar Engeland nog gewoon onder contract staat bij Groningen. Dan zijn er nog twee nieuwe namen in de basis vandaag: Maikel Kieftenbeld, rechtsback, overgkomen van Go Ahead Eagles en Gonzalo Garcia Garcia, de gracieuze, maar vaak ook kwetsbare spelmaker die tergugehaald is na een half jaar VVV Venlo.

Bij Groningen zal Danny Holla, normaal gesproken één van de controleurs op het middenveld, de competitiestart moeten missen. Hij kampt nog met de nasleep van een gebroken enkel, vorig seizoen opgelopen tijdens de training. Verder mist Groningen ook al langere tijd spelmaker Petter Andersson die met kniebandproblemen al ruim een half jaar is uitgeschakeld. Tenslotte ontbreken WK-gangers Tim Matvz en Thomas Enevoldsen nog. Zij krijgen rust van trainer Huistra en zullen zich later bij de voorbereiding aansluiten.

Een speler om bij tegenstander Vitoria Guimaraes vooral op te letten is de nieuwe spits Edgar Silva, een Brazliaan van 1.90 meter lang die het afgelopen seizoen bij concurrent Nacional in 24 wedstrijden 12 keer doel trof.

Deze voorbeschouwing zal morgen worden vervolgd met een terugblik op de wedstrijd en een analyse van wat we dit seizoen kwalitatief en inhoudelijk van FC Groningen mogen verwachten.

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